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CSA 2020 – Week 14

Here’s a view of our pepper patch.

It is always a long wait for peppers to mature.

They first ones were seeded back in late February. In April we transplanted them into bigger pots. About mid-June we planted them in the field. Since then we have tended them and waited … We picked the first peppers – jalapenos & shishitos – at the end of July. Gradually other varieties matured and now … finally … it’s pepper season!

Along with the jalapenos …

and shishitos …

we are picking lots of others – some sweet & others hot, both big & small, long & short, and all colours …

and still waiting on more to ripen …

They are beautiful to look at, fun to pick, and exciting to eat – especially the hot ones !

What’s in the box?

Peppers, kale bunches, cucumbers, beans, edamame, tomatoes,

zucchini, salad greens, garlic.

  • Find a sweet pepper or 2 in your box this week – maybe green or red or orange or purple …
  • Baby kale for salads has been in the CSA box several times this season. This week we move to larger kale. While it can still be used fresh in salads, it is also sturdy enough for cooking. Don’t have a favourite go-to kale recipe? Check out http://www.cookwithwhatyouhave.com for a large selection. (this recipe site is included with your CSA share. Please email us for your access code if you have forgotten it.)
  • Our next planting of cucumbers, which we planted in the greenhouse, began producing last week. We’re hoping there is enough for everyone this week. They certainly turned out better than our first few plantings, but even these have a few scars and marks on them. They still taste great though!
  • Beans – either green beans or the yellow-with-purple-stripes dragon’s tongue beans will be in your share.
  • We offered edamame (fresh soybeans) a few weeks ago and it was well received. Boil in salted water for 3-5 minutes. Pop the beans out of their pods, eat & enjoy! We like to sprinkle some lime or lemon juice on them.
  • Tomatoes, zucchini (and summer squash), a salad green (spinach, lettuce, arugula, or salad mix …), and garlic complete the box this week.
  • extras – hot peppers for those who enjoy them!

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Around the farm this week …

Transplanting when tired = crooked rows!!

Flynn calls this hunting!

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 13

It’s late August and the farm is a study in contrast.

Some areas are waist deep in weeds while other parts are neat & tidy.

There are beds full of vibrant green & thriving crops next to rows of weary & sad looking vegetables.

Overall I think it is accurate to say the farm looks a little rough around the edges.

And we’re okay with that. We’re at the height of harvest, and still seeding & planting weekly, watering daily, and weeding – when we can find the time, and energy! Plus we really, really need a good rain!

What’s in the box?

Chinese cabbage, fall radishes, zucchini, blackberries, tomatoes, 

green onions, garlic, beets …

  • Chinese cabbage is another of my favourite vegetables. Crisp, tender, and mild – it is delicious used fresh in a salad instead of lettuce. Or use the large leaves as wraps, make it into coleslaw, kimchi or stir-fry it. While the outer leaves are a lovely green colour, the inside is often creamy white. Our Chinese cabbage is normally a heavy, solid, tight head, but these are more like a head of romaine lettuce – loose & leafy. If we wait until they form a tighter head we may lose them again like we did the spring cabbages. This hot & dry weather is not ideal for cabbage!
  • Fall radishes (or winter radishes) are different from spring radishes. They take much longer to mature and the result is a larger, but milder, crispy radish. They are most delicious eaten raw but can also be stir-fried, or roasted. We seeded 8 different kinds this year – white, red, purple and watermelon radishes (pale green with pink centres). They had been growing well, but aphids suddenly got into the patch and sucked the life out of the green leaves. Without leaves the radishes cannot grow. We’ll lift the insect netting and get a closer look tomorrow – at least several varieties should be large enough to harvest.
  • The new zucchini patch is producing prolifically now – both green & yellow, along with several kinds of summer squash – yellow patty pan, round yellow and lemon (so named because they resemble a lemon in both shape & colour). Despite the differences in appearance they all taste much the same and can be used the same way. Our favourite way to enjoy zucchini is sliced thickly, brushed with olive oil and grilled on the BBQ until tender. Season with salt & pepper. One of our CSA members uses slices of summer squash as a pizza base, spreading her toppings on then grilling or baking them.
  • The remainder of the CSA box is familiar – blackberries, tomatoes, green onions, garlic & beets.
  • ??? We’re also picking some other vegetables this week – cucumbers, beans, carrots …  There is  not quite enough of any of these for everybody. But you should find at least one of these additional vegetables in your share.
  • Our hot peppers are slowly ripening. Some of the milder ones have already been available and as the hotter varieties mature we will have them on the table as extras for those who like some heat! From our experience so far they are really HOT this season!!

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Around the farm this week …

Amy is still seeding (mostly just greens now), so I still have lots of transplanting to do!

More contrast … A new planting of spinach (left) is doing well, while the lettuce (right) has mostly died. This is despite daily watering. We’re probably losing at least 1/3 of our new plantings these days. It’s just too hot & dry for them to get established & grow.

Lots of weeds = lots of fun for somebody!


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CSA 2020 – Week 12

It’s been a while!

After a disappointingly dry weekend – despite rain in the forecast, rain on the radar map, and rain falling around us – we finally received a good downpour late this afternoon.

And here is the proof – puddles in the yard!

But more importantly, when I dig down in the vegetable fields the rain has soaked right in. What a blessing!

It came at the best time too. I had spent much of the day transplanting vegetables on the farm. Where the onions were recently harvested, I planted lettuce mix and spinach.

Where I had put in beets a couple of weeks ago, I replanted beets again – another 2000+ beet plants to replace the 2000+ that didn’t make it through without rain (despite my daily watering).

I had just filled the sprayer with water to water these transplants in when the precipitation began.

Plus, the water truck had just emptied 2500 gallons of water into our cistern so I could begin watering the tomatoes, peppers & eggplant which are showing signs of stress.

Today’s rain will help all the crops on the farm. The new vegetable transplants will get off to a great start, and the blackberries, tomatoes and other vegetables will be refreshed & re-energized.

And I won’t have to spend so much time watering – for at least a few days!

What’s in the box?

Edamame, shishito peppers, green peppers, salad greens, green beans, blackberries, tomatoes, zucchini, onions or green onions, garlic.

(Please remember to return your boxes and any containers for reuse. Thank you!)

  • We have grown edamame for years, to sell at our farmers’ markets, but have never offered it in our CSA boxes – till now! Edamame are fresh soybeans that are picked when the bean pods are plump & ripe but before they start to dry up. (They are not the same as the fields of soybeans that are grown all over the province.) Edamame are full of protein, fibre and loaded with vitamins & minerals – a very healthy vegetable. Traditionally served as a Japanese bar snack, they are easy to prepare. Simply boil the pods in salted water for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the water, drain and sprinkle with lime juice. Then squeeze the pods to pop out the beans and enjoy as a healthy snack. Delicious!
  • Shishito peppers are another Asian delight – a small, thin, bright green pepper, with a sweet, fruity flavour and thin, tender, wrinkled skin. What makes a shishito exciting is that 1 in 10 peppers will be hot! They are simple to prepare and delicious to eat! While you can use them as you would any other sweet pepper, they are at their best when charred in olive oil in a cast-iron skillet or other heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook the peppers whole, turning occasionally, until they begin to blister on all sides. This only takes a few minutes. Sprinkle with salt and maybe a splash of lemon or lime juice and some parmesan cheese, and serve immediately. Eat the whole pepper – except the stem.
  • As usual the sweet peppers are taking their sweet time to ripen. Rather than wait for colour, we’ll pick some green and enjoy them now. There will be plenty of red, yellow & orange peppers later.
  • There will be another pint of blackberries in your share this week. Please check last week’s newsletter for details on our use of pesticides on the blackberries.
  • The rest of your box this week will include a salad green (lettuce, spinach, baby kale or arugula), green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, an onion or a bunch of green onions and a bulb of garlic. 

Enjoy the abundance of August!

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Around the farm this week …

Another planting of beets just weeded.

Green onions, basil, dill … waiting to be weeded!

Summer squash.

 

 

The winter squash patch.

 

 

 


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CSA 2020 – Week 11

What’s in the box?

Blackberries, carrots, green beans, tomatoes, zucchini, green onions, garlic.

  • When blackberry harvest begins we know that summer is at least half over! Blackberries are always a highlight of the season. It seems almost everybody enjoys blackberries. Picked properly they are a little sweet & a little tart. If they aren’t quite ripe, they are sour. Too ripe and they are soft & mushy, but incredibly sweet. We try to pick them as ripe as possible, but still firm. Unlike raspberries, blackberries are not hollow, but have a centre core which is soft & edible. The only way to eat a blackberry is to pop the whole thing in your mouth. Try to take a small bite, and you are covered in black, staining juice. Blackberries are best eaten fresh, but also make great jam, juice, sauce, ice cream …
  • Please note that we do use pesticides on our blackberries. For many years we did not. That was one of the good things about growing blackberries – no spraying necessary! Then along came the spotted wing drosophila. Spotted wing drosophila is an invasive vinegar fly that has the potential to cause extensive damage to many fruit crops – especially soft and dark coloured fruit like blackberries. In the last number of years it has been found throughout much of southern Ontario and most of the fruit-growing areas of North America, and has become a chronic pest in berry and tender fruit crops. Effective biological controls are not yet available. There are cultural practices that we use to help reduce the insect populations, but the only effective control right now is chemical. And so we spray regularly to try to kill the spotted wing drosophila and protect our blackberries (and elderberries). We would rather not! But then again, we would rather not have worms in our blackberries!
  • Carrots and I have a complicated relationship. First of all, I prefer not to eat them – especially raw – except maybe shredded in coleslaw or salad. Then, we find them difficult to grow. I’m not sure why. 2020 was going to be the year we grew lots of amazing carrots – carrots of every size & colour. Beautiful carrots! Alas it was not to be. We seeded carrots 5 times this season. Two times they never even germinated. Twice they came up spotty but ok, and once we got a lovely patch of carrots. Not a good average at all! We have spent way too much time weeding them, watering them and encouraging them! This week the CSA box will include a bunch of carrots from the good patch. We’ll pick them tomorrow so fingers crossed there will be an abundance of sweet & delicious carrots. But you’ll have to tell me how they taste – I probably won’t try them!
  • Green beans will be in the box this week, along with tomatoes (beefsteak & cherries), zucchini, green onions and garlic.

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Thank you for the many good wishes, cards, emails, flowers, food … and love that we have received this past week since the passing of Lorie’s dad. He was a fixture on our farm for many years and many of our CSA members & market customers knew him well.

He was well-loved and is greatly missed!

https://tallmanfuneralhomes.ca/tribute/details/8815/John-Klassen/obituary.html#tribute-start


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CSA 2020 – Week 10

 

An inch (26mm) of rain fell on the farm over the weekend – a very, very welcome inch of rain! All the crops (and weeds too) are looking refreshed and healthier this morning. While an inch isn’t a lot after so many weeks of drought, it will still go a long way to helping all our vegetables and the blackberries.

What’s in the box ?

Jalapeno peppers, fresh cut herbs (parsley, dill, cilantro…), tomatoes, beets, zucchini, onions, fresh garlic, salad greens.

extras – kohlrabi, sunflowers, basil ?

  • We don’t often put hot peppers in our CSA box, offering them as an extra rather, since many people do not prefer them. But our jalapenos are so beautiful this summer we couldn’t resist. You will find just a couple in your share this week. Jalapenos are usually on the milder end of the hot pepper spectrum – but they can sometimes pack a punch! It’s a bit of a surprise! Slice them into your salad, or morning eggs, or whatever sauce or dish you are cooking for a little something extra. We like to scrape out the seeds and stuff them with whatever cheese is around, wrap them with bacon and bake or roast them until the bacon is cooked and the cheese is melted. Or instead of cheese we’ll use a piece of fruit.
  • Choose a bunch of fresh cut herbs this week – parsley, dill, cilantro …
  • The rest of your CSA share includes the bounty of summer – tomatoes, juicy & flavourful, sweetened by the sun, beets, zucchini (amazing how some hot sun & a bit of rain on the weekend plumped them up. Most of them are grilling size – perfect for the BBQ), onions, and fresh garlic. The salad greens this week will be either spinach or a lettuce mix. Most of the spinach & lettuce we have planted in the last few weeks has succumbed to the heat and lack of moisture (despite our efforts to water & keep it growing) but a few small patches made it! Maybe they were planted at the right time & caught the few raindrops we had the other week, maybe the moon was right, maybe they were in better soil, maybe I watered them a bit more or prayed over them more ???? But enjoy a mid-summer salad this week. This weekend’s rain will certainly benefit the salad greens and hopefully increase production again in the next few weeks.
  • Also available for those who choose are kohlrabi, sunflowers & maybe basil (weather dependant).

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Around the farm this week …

Blackberry harvest has begun! We will pick blackberries every Monday, Wednesday & Friday now, until the season is over – usually mid-September. It may take a another week or 2 until we get enough for our CSA boxes.

Lettuce patch ready to harvest – the first nice lettuce we’ve had in a few weeks.

 

Other crops have struggled.

Transplanted these vegetables last Thursday. Thanks to the rain they are (mostly) doing well.

77 large round bales were delivered – for mulching crops next year.